February 3, 2013

Ain’t No Party Like a Liz Lemon Party

Print More

In my last column, I discussed how, although it would be sad, I was ready to let 30 Rock end. I argued that it is better to allow 30 Rock to leave the airwaves while it’s still good than to let it drag on and on like so many other shows. While I still believe this fervently, I was surprised just how emotional the 30 Rock series finale was for me. I have not sobbed that much since the last time I saw Up.

As a disclaimer, it takes almost nothing to make me cry. I once started crying during a really touching Oreo commercial. However, it was more than just the sentiment of a grandfather and grandson enjoying the American tradition of dipping Oreos into milk that caused the waterworks Friday morning as I watched “Hogcock/Last Lunch” on Hulu.

I realized that this is the only television show that I have watched from start to finish. For the past seven years, I have been watching Liz Lemon try to have it all every Thursday on NBC (or Friday on Hulu). I was there when Liz fought for Pete’s job in the pilot, when she chose her dream job over a life with Floyd in Cleveland, when she dumped Jon Hamm because he is stupid, when she realized she wants a family and when she finally got it.

The more I thought about it, those seven years were probably the most formative years of my life. Although I found Lena Dunham’s confessional to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler “You guys got me through middle school!” pretty obnoxious, yeah… That’s what’s happening here.

When 30 Rock premiered on Oct. 11, 2006, I was 13 years old. I had started a new school the previous year, I had braces (and also a headgear I had to wear at night but we don’t have to go into that) and I refused to bend to the pressure of skinny jeans insisting that Stacy and Clinton of What not to Wear say that straight-leg looks better. My favorite color was purple, my celebrity crush was Rupert Grint, I wanted to be Jack McCoy when I grew up and I thought I had a great singing voice.

All of that changed over the course of those seven years (for one thing, I realized it would look incestuous if I were with another redhead). Most of that has very little to do with 30 Rock, but through all of that change, 30 Rock was there consistently making me laugh — not to mention that I built some of my closest friendships over our mutual love of our blazer-wearing heroine.

During a time for many girls that is filled with body image issues and low self-esteem (brought on by the existence of Blake Lively), I was lucky to have Tina Fey as my role model. When I felt dorky or ugly, I could watch Liz Lemon brazenly stick up for her feminist ideals, wear work sneakers and make jokes about her spanx (which I appreciated because those things got me through Bat-Mitzvah season in one piece.)

Of course, those seven years were also transformative for Fey. Apart from those who watched her every week on SNL, she was virtually unknown to the public until her Sarah Palin impression in 2008. Many critics were sure 30 Rock would be cancelled, especially in its first season, when it was competing against Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Yet, against all odds, she proved that a show could be weird and smart without sacrificing its popularity.

As the years went on, 30 Rock won Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Fey’s memoir Bossypants (which if you have not read then literally why are you reading this? Go!) was on The New York Times bestseller list. Today, she is recognized and loved, not just by one niche audience, but by all English-speaking or subtitle-reading people with a sense of humor. She has worked so hard and achieved so much. In her personal life, Fey had two children over the course of 30 Rock’s run: Alice and Penelope. I love my parents, but I would be lying if I said a little part of me wasn’t jealous of those two lucky girls.

Seven years isn’t that much time in the grand scheme of things, but for me, for Tina Fey and for many other nerdy individuals who’ve been watching 30 Rock since Day One, those seven years saw a whole lot change. I know its just a show and shows end all the time, but I can’t help feeling as if something grand has just ended — something unique of which only those of us alive and paying attention for those seven years are cognizant.

I think the only other time I felt a similar emotion was when sat alone in my room the summer of 2007 reading the final installment of the Harry Potter series. But this feels different. Whereas that was a global phenomenon, my relationship with 30 Rock seems much more personal.

Liz Lemon and Tina Fey have been such inspirations to me during hard times in my life, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised at how much I sobbed while Jenna Maroney sang “I Will Never Forget You, Rural Juror.” Again, I truly believe that it was 30 Rock’s time, but I will miss you, Rural Juror, and Jack, Kenneth, Pete, Frank, Dr. Spaceman, Tracy, Jenna and Liz. Thank you to the entire cast, crew and to Tina Fey, for having been so wonderful. Moser out.

Original Author: Julia Moser

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *